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Several reports and doctors’ accounts indicate that pregnant individuals in Wisconsin have been forced to delay or were denied medical care during a miscarriage due to the state’s abortion ban.

The New York Times reported the story of a Wisconsin woman — as told by her gynecologist — who bled for days from a miscarriage after a hospital declined to perform a procedure to remove the fetus “because of the laws.”

NBC News reported that after a woman’s water broke at 18 weeks — to early for a fetus to survive — and she started showing signs of infection, her doctor “faced a dilemma” about whether to perform an abortion, fearing, “Will the DA go after me and I end up fined or in jail?”

Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban permits abortions only to save the life of a pregnant person. Experts and doctors have said the antiquated language of the Wisconsin law causes confusion about when doctors can intervene and provide medical care to individuals facing miscarriage.

See a full discussion of this at Wisconsin Watch

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


New York Times: They Had Miscarriages, and New Abortion Laws Obstructed Treatment

NBC News: Pregnant women in states with abortion bans face the reality of a post-Roe world

Wisconsin State Legislature: Wisconsin Legislature: 940.04

Wisconsin Watch: Wisconsin’s 173-year-old ban allows only life-saving ‘therapeutic abortions.’ No one knows what that means.

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Erin Gretzinger joined Wisconsin Watch as a reporting intern in May 2022. She is a journalism and French major at UW-Madison and will graduate in spring 2023. Erin previously worked for the Wisconsin State Journal as a reporting intern and served as the 2021-22 editor-in-chief at The Badger Herald. She is a recipient of the Jon Wolman Scholarship, the Sigrid Schultz Scholarship and the Joseph Sicherman Award Fund for her academic and reporting work.